Tag Archives: NECRWA2017

A visit with my friend, #author Judy Kentrus

Every now and again you meet a person who you know is going to be special in your life. Author JUDY KENTRUS is such a person for me. We met last year at the NECRWA  conference and realized we both had a passion for telling stories about real people who weren’t in their 20’s and 30’s, but a wee bit older. We call what we like to read and write Seasoned romance and romancelandia is finally getting on board with the concept of love over the age of 40! And thank you, Jesus, for that!

Anyhoo… Judy is a prolific and talented author and she stopped by a bit ago and let me interview her about her writing and her personal life. I’m so pleased to share a little something from her latest release,  A CHRISTMAS WISH, with you  as well.

Judy, The Writer 

  1. What drives you to write?

There’s a little person that dances around my head with ideas; characters that demand their own story – some from my other books; it also fills a void in my life…

  1. What genre(s) of Romance do your write, and why?

Contemporary, Romantic Suspense, Seasoned Romance. What would a story be without comedy and mischievous kids. My characters are in their late thirties, forties and fifties. This age range opens up a world of HEA opportunities: starting over after a breakup/divorce; second chances, finding love later in life; empty nesters hoping to rekindle their love, etc. In The Wedding Gift, three ninety-year-olds, The Lemon Sisters, they formed a singing group, “borrowed” a van so they could crash the bridal shower.

  1. What genre(s) of Romance do you read, and why?

I’ve an eclectic taste in books, right down to graphic novels like Captain Underpants and Dogman. Romance heads the top of the list, but a variety of books offer insight to all the genres so I don’t get bored.

  1. What’s your writing schedule? Do you write everyday?

I write every day, at least six to eight hours. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea, boot up my laptop and write it down. If I’m not writing a book, I’m doing research. My daughter teases me about what I’ve researched, right down to how to sabotage break lines on semi, the ingredients in crystal meth, or how to give lap dance.

  1. Give us a glimpse of the surroundings where you write. Separate room? In the kitchen? At the dining room table?

I have an office with a desk top computer. On the wall to the left of my writing area, is a dry erase board with my writing schedule that keeps me on track. It’s filled for 2019. Two large windows overlook my backyard. The wide windowsill is filled with a variety of houseplants. Since I live in the Poconos, my daily visitors are deer, rabbits, wild turkeys, red fox. Occasionally, black bears and their cubs meander up the driveway.

  1. Are you the kind of writer who needs total quiet to compose, or are you able to filter out the typical sounds of the day and use your tunnel-vision?

Total quiet? What’s that? My daughter and her family live with me so my two granddaughters – six and eight – keep things lively. They respect that when my office door is closed, I’m working, but… Yup, tunnel-vision.

  1. Do you listen to music while you write, and if so, what kind? If not, why not?

Music? Absolutely. I love Sirius and Amazon Prime music. Depending on my mood, I listen to country, easy listening (depending on what I’m writing) old-school rock, the 70’s, 80’s. In every one of my books, I reference music. In my book Tea in Time, I had my character do a lap dance to Rod Stewart’s “Tonight’s the Night.”

  1. How did you come up with the plotline/idea for your current WIP?

My current WIP is my US Park Ranger Series. I read about the problem National Parks are experiencing with makers of Crystal Meth. I had a character shouting in my head – “Pick me! Pick me!” I also have a US Park Ranger living in my community and he agreed to be interviewed. I was blown away by what these Federal police officers have to face and decided to do a series.

  1. Which comes first for you – character or plot? And why?

I’d say it’s fifty-fifty. Plots play an important part of a book and drive the story, but it takes strong characters to move it along. My characters have a tendency to take over the storyline and take me in directions I never planned. I also like to people watch. Many times it leads to what if…

  1. What 3 words describe you, the writer?

Driven, hard-working, dedicated,

Judy, my friend 

  1. Tell us one unusual thing about yourself – not related to writing!       I LOVE to bake, especially cookies. My family calls me the Cookie Queen. 
  2. Who was your first love and what age were you?  My first love was my husband. We met when we were 14 and never broke up.
  3. If you could relive one day, which one would it be? Think GROUNDHOG DAY, the movie for this one – you’ll have to live it over and over and…  The day I married the love of my life.
  4. Do you like a guy in boxers, briefs, or commando? I like boxers, but my guys have a tendency to go commando.
  5. If you had to give up one necessary-can’t-live-without-it beauty item, what would it be? Lipstick (this is funny because my daughter works for L’Oreal) 
  6. What three words describe you, the person? Loving, kind, sentimental.
  7. If you could sing a song with Jimmy Fallon, what would it be? I’d like to sing with him and Billy Joel – “Only the Good Die Young.”
  8. If you could hang out with any literary character from any book penned at any time line, who would it by, why, and what would you do together?  I love Eve Dallas, the Lieutenant from Nora Robert’s In-Death books. I’d do a ride-along on one of Eve’s cases. (Knowing her, she’d object to the intrusion, lol.) Then I’d have dinner with her and Roarke at their mansion. (Peggy here: SEE??? this is why we are friends!!!! that’s my answer to the question every single time!!!)

 

Bonus round

 

I love the Actor’s Studio show on Bravo, so this is my version of it:

  1. Favorite sound – my husband’s voice
  2. Least favorite sound – ping from a cell phone
  3. Best song ever written – To Where You Are, by Josh Groban
  4. Worst song ever written – Who Let the Dogs Out
  5. Favorite actor and actress – Sean Connery and Julie Andrews
  6. Who would you want to be for 1 day and why? ( It can be anyone living or dead) – Kathleen Woodiwiss, the Author. She was an incredible writer and I’d love to have her writing expertise. (Peggy here: I swear we are sisters from another mister!!!)
  7. What turns you on? Music
  8. What turns you off?  Rude, obnoxious people
  9. Give me the worst 5 words ever heard on a first date ( here’s mine: “Is that your real hair?”) “You don’t look like your picture.” (I know six words)
  10. What’s your version of a perfect day? Summer: Temp: 80, sitting on the deck, enjoying the sunshine, music playing, drinking ice coffee, laptop on the table in front of me, and looking forward to having dinner with my husband.       In the winter, sitting in front of the fire in our family room, writing, and looking out the window at the falling snow, drinking hot chocolate.

(Peggy here: Can you see why I love this lady so much??!!)

 

A CHRISTMAS WISH

 

Caleb Hughes Thompson, owner of Hughes Department Stores, business-driven world is shattered when he receives a letter, written by his recently deceased brother. Daniel thrived on high adventure and lived each day as if it were his last. His dying wish is to have Caleb locate his daughter, the result of a one night stand. He was to start his search in Eden Prairie, Kentucky.

Erin MacKenna is a single mom and a third grade teacher in the Abraham Lincoln primary school in Eden Prairie, Indiana. One crazy night of indiscretion resulted in the most wonderful gift she’d ever been given, her daughter Danielle. Not wanting to damage her daughter of a preacher reputation, she tells everyone she’d was artificially inseminated.

Caleb needs someone to help plan their in-store holiday promotion, Santa Traditions. A teacher in the primary school would qualify to help him   It would also be the perfect place to start searching for his niece.

BONUS SHORT STORY: Danielle’s Snowy Wish

Formerly KW: Undercover Heart

Excerpt

Caleb Hughes Thompson looked out his wall of windows that overlooked Indianapolis. Their building was surrounded by skyscrapers, but he had a perfect view of the historic Soldier and Sailor’s Monument. In the ten years he’d lived here, he’d never taken the time to walk to the top of the monument. He had a bird’s eye view of the holiday tree lighting ceremony they had ever year, but he was too absorbed in his work.

In a little while, he had a meeting with department heads to review the holiday marketing for their two hundred department stores throughout the country. This would be their biggest push to achieve the company’s financial goal before the end of the year. Their online sales had already surpassed initial projections. He had seven weeks to prove his new marketing strategy would double their in-store sales.

As of an hour ago, his focus had changed.

He pushed his glasses to the top of his head and gently brushed his eyelids, trying to erase the burning sensation in his eyes. Crying had never come easy, but his body had sought some relief. The letter he’d just been given from his deceased brother would change his life, his priorities. His future.

He walked across the thick carpeting and settled in his high-back leather chair. With a slightly trembling hand, he picked up the letter written in his brother’s own hand six months ago.

Caleb, since you are reading this, I’m dead. Don’t cry for me. I’ve avoided responsibility, lived my life carefree, just the way I wanted. I knew there would be a high risk in this climbing adventure so I left this letter with our lawyer. You need to sit down before you read further.

            I’m pretty sure I have a daughter.

            Now close your mouth while I explain. About nine years ago, Ned, Paul, and I met three girls in a bar in Galveston Island. I know I slept with one of them because my pillow smelled very sweet. I also found a pair of pink panties.

            Ryan worked at Marshall’s Stables before he took the bar exam and sometimes helped with the kids when they rode the horses. This little girl fell off her horse and hurt her foot. Ryan removed her boot and sock and was shocked to see the little hook in her pinky toe. He made a joke and asked her if she got her cute toe from her mother or father. She said her father because her mom had pretty toes. The little girl had a great laugh and called it her candy cane toe, the same thing we called our toes at her age. She was about six or seven and had reddish-brown hair. Unfortunately, Ryan never got her name. I haven’t lost my mind, but I plan to look for this kid when I get back – if I do.

            You need to try to locate this little girl. I’d start in Eden Prairie, Indiana where Marshalls’ is located. This is just between us. No lawyers and don’t tell Mom and Dad. Don’t even know for sure if this kid really exists.

            Right now you are cussing me out, calling me irresponsible, why didn’t I use protection, how the hell are you to find a kid that may or may not be your niece?

            Get it, Caleb. Your niece.

            She’s probably the only grandchild Mom and Dad will ever have, unless you decide to become a father at forty-two. Just make sure the kid is okay. If you can confirm she’s my daughter, get to know her. Who knows, some day you might be able to tell her about me. She’ll also be very rich.

            On a personal note from brother to brother, you feed on ambition and success, but you’re choking behind that big-ass desk. Get out of that damn office. Take it from me, it’s time you changed your diet. You’ve got lots of money, but a very lonely future. Find someone to love.

            No one ever took us for twins, but you were the best brother. I never said it much, but I love you Caleb. If St. Peter actually lets me in, I will keep a watch over you. If you’re doing something wrong or heading in the wrong direction, I’ll send down a message, better yet, a lightning bolt in the shape of a boot and kick you in the ass.              

Daniel

            Caleb removed his glasses and rubbed his hands over his damp cheeks. Maybe Danny hadn’t been wrong living the vagabond life. He was always warm and giving, a little-known philanthropist, but every day had been an adventure. Was it time he took his brother’s advice and changed his diet? Would he be able to find this little girl?

Buy Links: Amazon // B&N // Kobo

A little more about Judy

 

I’m a romantic at heart, having married my high school sweetheart, who is still the love of my life. While raising our two children, I was a “closet” writer and managed to complete four books. With the e-book explosion, I bottled up my courage and selected my favorite book, reworked the story line, and self-published “Elusive Obsession,” November 6, 2013.
I like to create characters that the reader can relate to/with. Sometimes while writing a scene, I find myself laughing out loud at the hilarious situations I literally toss them into. They’re not perfect with beautiful bodies, they make mistakes, their not afraid to say I’m sorry, they are not afraid to compromise and they suffer all human emotions. Most important, they love with all their heart..
I like to read books with a “twist” or two in the storyline and you’ll find these OMG situations in my stories. They are stand alone books, but I bring the characters from the first book into the follow-up story. I’ve already got readers clamoring for the next book, “Maid to Order”, that centers around Russell, a character from “Elusive Obsession.”
My characters also love to spend time in the kitchen and whip up their favorite dishes and treats. You’ll find a yummy dish or sweet from the books on my website: judykentrus.com.
I hope you enjoy my books and I love to hear from my readers.

You can connect with Judy here:

Amazon // Goodreads // Website // Facebook // Twitter

 

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Another word about speaking in public…

The other day I wrote about how miserable a public speaker I’ve become. In truth, it’s because I don’t get the chance to do it as often as I used to so I’m kinda out of practice. Hand in hand with being terrified to speak in public is my fear of reading my own words out loud when there are more people than just me in a room.

Case in point: last year at NECRW2017 I was part of a group of authors who did a live reading of their current books. I thought it would be a good way to get my written work out there and hopefully garner some new readers. No brainer, right?

Yeah, no.

Up until the moment I was called upon to read I still hadn’t chosen the excerpt I wanted to share. The book was my newest one for Lyrical, COOKING WITH  KANDY, which had come out a few weeks earlier, and I wanted to read something that would spark ( hopefully) a listener enough to want to buy the book. Right up to the second moderator and host Damon Suede called my name, I was still undecided.

Then, my name was called and up to the microphone I went. I took a breath – three in fact – so deep it looked like I might be having the beginning of an asthma attack to those who knew what to look for(!) and read a simple passage loaded with emotions between the two main characters.

495 words.

8 minutes to complete.

I kinda left my body for the experience, because I really don’t remember much. When I sat back down, Damon said, “Am I right that was your very first public reading?”

My heart stopped beating when he said that. Christ! Had it been that bad? That obvious? That horrible a reading?

I nodded, unable to form coherent words in response.

Damon grinned and said something like, “So, yay! You’re not a reading virgin anymore! We popped your cherry!”

Everyone – including me – laughed. I know I turned sixteen shades of boiled tomato red, but still, his comment broke the tension that had coiled deep in me. Bless the man!

Next time ( and I can hear you now asking She’s gonna do it again???!!), yes, NEXT time, I’ll be less nervous, better prepared, and practice what I want to read before I get up and do so.

And BTW, Damon Suede has a great article in this month’s RWA magazine –  for those of you who subscribe –  about authors and public reading of their work. It’s well worth the read!

When I’m not obsessing about speaking in public you can usually find me here:

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Filed under Author, Characters, Contemporary Romance, Cooking, female friends, Foodie, Kensington Publishers, love, Lyrical Author, Romance, Romance Books, RWA, Strong Women, The Laine Women

The things I do for #Writing #research

Last week I divulged that I am a dyed in the wool nosey parker. Really. I’m also a world class eavesdropper. The reason I’m telling you this is because I attended the NECRWA conference in Burlington, Ma, this past weekend and I got there early – Thursday night ( conference started on Friday) and spent the better part of the early evening hanging out in two places: the concierge lounge on my floor and the hotel lobby.

Talk about opportunities to eavesdrop! Holy Moly!

In the lobby was ( wait for it…) a lounge, aka a bar, and my little eavesdropping heart just went pitter patter with glee at all the fun, tips-i-ly things that were said by the patrons. Can I just tell you how much fun I had!!! I know it’s probably a horrible thing to admit, but I really get a kick out of watching people drink and then flirt/talk/flirt some more and keep drinking.

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t drink alcohol… and this is one of the reasons why I don’t. I never want to be on the talking end of a conversation that people make fun of. I mean, let’s be honest here. I say enough stupid things when I’m stone cold sober. I can’t even imagine what the heck would come out of my mouth if I was…inebriated.

Anyway, back to my lobby eavesdropping. Here’s one little snippet I “overheard.”

30 something on her way, way passed being tipsy: “Hey, this hot guy I saw the other night had these cool shots . They looked good. I think they had cimmanon. I wanna try one.”

The other 30 something she was with, not as tipsy: “You mean, cinnamon, right?”

Drunken reply; “That’s what I said. They were called fire crotch, cause they were hot. So was they guy. Hot, I mean.” A twitter of hiccuppy laughs followed this.

Not so drunken reply: “Fireballs.”

Drunken Reply: “What?

Not so drunken reply, only louder this time, as if that would help her understand: “He had fireballs.”

Drunken reply through wide eyes and opened mouth: “Really? How do you know that? Did you, like, do him in the bathroom to find that out?” 

See? As far as research goes, this is pure gold, people. Pure gold.

When I’m not eavesdropping you can find me here relating what I’ve eavesdropped: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triberr

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Conference comedown #NECRWA2017 #romancewriter

This past weekend I attended the NECRWA 2017 conference in Burlington, MA. Historically, this is a fabulous conference for romance writers to network with professionals, learn about craft, catch up with old friends, and make new ones. This year was no exception. Ii fact, this was a banner year for the conference and for me.

Let me ‘esplain….

For the conference itself, the committee tried several new “things” conference-wise that just worked. A bigger and expanded book fair; an exceptional cocktail hour and meal service; a large and varied collection of conference topics, and two break-out sessions after the conference was completed. I don’t think I ‘ve ever heard so many participant comments in the past that were so glowing of all aspects of the conference, so Kudos to the conference committee. You should all pat yourselves several times on the back!

As for me, well, this was the first time I’ve ever given a professional writing speech. Okay, speech isn’t the correct word. It was a workshop on writing romance stories for people over the age of 40. I’d given this presentation to my local NHRWA chapter last month and it was warmly received. I even wrote a blog about my nerves concerning it.  But they’re all my friends. I didn’t think they’d be mean and they weren’t ( of course they weren’t!!!) This time, the presentation was for a room full of people I didn’t know. At all. Now, some of my chapter mates attended to support me ( gotta lovelovelove that, right!!) And I knew the moderator from previous conferences. But the majority of that room was alien to me and boy-oh-boy was I nervous.

Turns out, I didn’t have to be. They all laughed in the right places, asked en-pointe questions related to the topic and I never once saw people yawning, checking Apple watches, or fidgeting.

Nirvana for a speaker!!!!

The best part? A few hours later I met one of the attendees in another workshop and she stopped me and told me how much I had inspired her and that she’d had an immediate story plot jump into her head. When she told me about it I started to well-up because I could see – really SEE – how the talk had inspired her. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so emotionally invested in a stranger before! Sniff…sniff…

So, now I’m home, getting back to the editing and writing grind today. Although, it really isn’t a grind. It’s an absolute delight in every way, especially, now that I know my words and thoughts actually helped another writer.

Le sigh…..I’ve got a great life.

When I’m not attending conferences you can find me here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triberr

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Filed under #Mfrwauthors, Author, Contemporary Romance, Life challenges, NHRWA, Romance, Romance Books, RWA